Advocate review of Mary Verdi’s new Christmas Album

Wednesday December 14, 2011

Mary Verdi wants to be part of your holiday tradition.

“I wanted to make sure I created a CD that people could play while wrapping gifts or making cookies, that sort of thing,” the Berkshire-based performer said of “Christmas in the Berkshires,” her new full-length album. “It was important for me to create a CD that would be a little bit of everything and bring back the nostalgia of that whole Christmas season that we just love.”

The result is an album that is decidedly traditional in its musical approach, with an emphasis on Christian spirituality.

“I think Christ just remains to be one of the best teachers that we’ve ever had of how to love everybody around you, and to celebrate the birthday of someone who was just so profoundly full of love, I think that is the epitome of my CD, I hope,” she explained.

The 15-song track listings include familiar chestnuts like “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “Silver Bells” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” although it’s also dotted with songs of a more recent vintage by artists such as Amy Grant and a new song by Verdi herself.

“Ultimately I think we all want to hear all those songs we know so well,” she said. “I wanted to make sure it was a CD where we all get to hear those songs that we only hear once a year.”

Verdi’s vocals are featured, accompanied by Ben Kohn on piano, Tony Lee Thomas on some guitar and vocals and Joe Meo on saxophone. The concept for the album, Verdi’s fourth, came about after last year’s version of her annual Christmas concert, which for the first time was held at The Colonial. Verdi said many people approached her merchandise table seeking a Christmas-themed album, and her next step was clear.

Shortly thereafter, she sat down at her piano and composed “Christmas Time,” an elegant, holiday-themed song in the true tradition of sentimental Christmas ballads.

The album is a family affair, with Verdi’s children chipping in their vocals on “Silent Night.”

“I added my kids just because I felt that Christmas is so family-focused. I really wanted the CD to depict my family and not just make it a commercial CD but make it feel like we all do in the Berkshires and have this nice community around us,” Verdi said.

Underlining this sense of place is the cover art for the album, a gatefold watercolor painting by local artist Marguerite Bride of a snow-kissed Park Square, Pittsfield, set in 1912. There’s also the presence of some antique sleigh bells Verdi came across in a Connecticut antique shop on a hot August day, while searching for the perfect wintry effect.

“We were able to use these antique bells all through the CD,” she recalled. “They have a sound that’s just magical. It was gorgeous.”

Christmas at the Colonial with Mary Verdi

December 3, 2011 Saturday 7pm

Don’t miss this annual Christmas show that is sponsored by Greylock Federal Credit Union

This show features Mary Verdi and her world traveled band:  Ben Kohn, Dave Christopolis, Chris Mattoon, Charlie Tokarz, Eileen Markland and Patty Feldman.  Guest artists include:  Joe Smith and Tony Lee Thomas.  This show will also feature St. Patrick & Raphael’s Bell Ringers from Williamstown, Dalton Ballet, 34 children vocalists and of course Santa Claus!  This is a Berkshire Christmas tradition that will be enjoyed ALL family members!

For tickets go to:  www.thecolonialtheatre.org   and call the box office at (413) 997-4444

Christmas in the Berkshires CD

‘Christmas in the Berkshires’ CD has finally arrived.  I am so thrilled to share this intimate cd with you.  Along with Ben Kohn on Piano, Tony Lee Thomas on Vocals and Joe Meo playing Sax, I set out to create a CD that will be played during the holiday season.  My hope was to include many heartfelt Christmas songs and some new versions of songs that I hope you’ll like.  I began writing ‘Christmas Time’, my original on the CD, last December after the Christmas show.  It is very dear to my heart and I hope you like it.

While recording, we went in search of Sleigh Bells in all of the antique stores in Pomfret, CT.  We found a very old set of actual horse sleigh bells and asked to take them to record!  The owner was happy to oblige and we were on our way, riding down a country road in August, shaking our bells and giggling!  We went on to find out that the writer of Sleigh Ride, Leroy Anderson, is actually from Pomfret, CT.  I didn’t have plans to record that song (my mistake), but decided to give it a try in the studio.  So when you hear this cut, you’ll hear Tony and I giggling and trying to sing the lyrics at a very fast tempo while watching Ben play a very small accordion/toy piano from 1902.  That was a terrific moment filled with Christmas Joy!  So, I hope you enjoy my Christmas CD as much as I enjoyed recording it.  Merry Christmas Everyone.  My God bless you and your family with health, joy and laughter.

I look forward to 2012 for several reasons.  I am going to married to a wonderful man in February.  Then, I will embark upon a year of concentrated work with Verdi Music.  I can not wait to return to writing at my piano each and every morning, while watching the snow fall.  Updates will soon arrive as to where my tour will be taking me.  Life is such a blessing, full of wonder and new horizons.  Until next time, keep smiling and remember to never let a day go by without a song…mary

Summer News

July 2011 – I had the most wonderful experience this past weekend at Blessed John Paul II Parish. Not only did I make many friends sharing my music, but the entire congregation sang in harmony with me for much of the mass! Wow, what a gift to hear others singing so beautifully. Thank you Father Boyle-you all are truly a blessed congregation.

The fourth of July parade was once again really fun with our soldiers in town and on the float with their family members. The Here at Home Committee is ready and waiting to help welcome back your soldier. So, if you know someone who is returning, please call the Veteran’s Office/Pittsfield, MA so we can help kick up the celebration!

I was so honored to sing at the Pentagon this past year. No offense to the Red Sox fans of the world, but I’m so stoked to say the Pentagon feels better than singing at Fenway! This summer also allowed me the honor of standing at 9/11’s ground zero in New York City. It helped strengthen my dedication to our troops and remind me even more how grateful I am of my freedom and yours.

If you would like for me to sing at your church. Just send me the contact information and I’ll send it along and get your church on our Precious Love Tour.

‘Precious Love’ has arrived! I hope you enjoy this love cd as much as I enjoyed writing and recording these songs. Love, love, love….is there really anything else worth singing about? Sales are off to a terrific start, so please keep spreading the word! Thanks.

You can purchase the Precious Love CD right here on the web site. You can also support these local stores and find the cd at: Wood Brothers Music, The Cottage, Steven Valenti’s, The Colonial Berkshire Gift Shop and The Red Lion Inn Gift Shop.

Thanks for your votes! My 411 Source Talent Contest in Western Massachusetts. I was blessed to be named Best Jazz Vocalist and Best Singer/Songwriter. I’m smiling and appreciate all of your votes and your unending support.